When asked how they would like to get involved in our community, our church said they wanted to help families with children. But how? We had few families in our church with children. Only one teenager attended with less than a half-dozen younger kids. Few young families were part of our church. We were a church family of retired people. We began talking with each other about possible ways to get involved with families with children. It seemed obvious that the melting pot of our community, where most kids from around Creswell were consistently, was at our public schools. So we could give it a try.

Since we had a church member who was on the school board, (now we actually have three), I was allowed to meet with our school district’s superintendent, where I said that we had people ready to volunteer to help the school. His reaction? “What do you want to do?” Oops! I hadn’t considered that question and had no idea how to answer, so I said, “I don’t know. We just want to help. We want to have a positive impact on Creswell.” I could tell he was doubtful and skeptical. He later told me that I he thought I was a “do-gooder” with a good heart. I think he was being generous.

However, a week prior to that, he’d attended another meeting, this one in Eugene, with a woman who had an idea about how to help elementary students read better. She’d been turned down by a few school districts in the area because she had no volunteers to make her idea work. The superintendent sent me to her.

And we struck it off! After a brief Starbuck’s meeting, we agreed to talk again, this time with my wife, a retired teacher, present. This thing was doable. The three of us went back to the superintendent. He was still a bit doubtful, but, along with the school’s principal, decided to give us a shot at one class, a second grade, lowest readers class. We had one trusting teacher willing to give us a shot.

We needed two regular volunteers plus a substitute. Every teacher knows volunteers can’t be counted on but we would be different. We would show up. A meeting was planned and a dozen people were ready to start. The school administrators agreed to let us try two classrooms, in other words, four volunteers with two substitutes. Most teachers decided against having us, but one other agreed. And we were off and running. Two classes in the second grade with hopeful teachers, and many other teachers glad we weren’t messing up their classes.

That was six years ago!

More to come…

Doug Allison